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Int J Audiol. 2009;48(9):655-60. doi: 10.1080/14992020903012481.

Ten-year longitudinal study of the effect of impulse noise exposure from gunshot on inner ear function.

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Department of Otolaryngology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.


This longitudinal study investigated how chronic gunshot noise exposure affects cochlear and saccular function in police officers who engaged in regular target shooting practice using dual protection (ear plugs plus earmuffs) for >10 years. In 1997, 20 male police officers underwent audiometry before and two weeks after shooting. Twelve of the original subjects were re-examined by audiometry coupled with vestibular evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) test in 2007. Significant deterioration of mean hearing thresholds at frequencies of 500 Hz through 4000 Hz was noted ten years later, affecting both ears. However, only the frequencies of 4000 and 6000 Hz on the left ear revealed significant difference in mean hearing thresholds compared with healthy controls. Abnormal VEMP responses were evident in nine police officers (75%), including absent VEMPs 7 and delayed VEMPs 2. In conclusion, deterioration to hearing may occur after long term exposure to gunshots, even when double hearing protection is used. Further study is in progress regarding how to preserve both cochlear and saccular function during long term gunshot exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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